Wednesday, December 15, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 15, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that 300 American bombers and fighter escorts attacked Piraeus Harbor in Greece, nearly destroyed in the initial fighting for Greece by the Germans in April, 1941, and three airfields at Athens. It was the heaviest Allied raid yet of the war against any Balkan country.

In Italy, the Eighth Army took Caldari, six miles north of Ortona on the Adriatic coast. The two bridgeheads north of the Moro River, respectively established by Indian and Canadian soldiers, were merged into one large bridgehead a mile in depth and five miles long. Fifth Army action was limited to patrol activity.

German soldiers captured as prisoners by the Allies in Italy were telling of Germany holding back men and materiel within the Fatherland to mount a major offensive. The reports were being treated by the Allies as deliberate propaganda ordered by the German commanders to be disseminated through captured soldiers.

Rumors came from refugees fleeing Germany that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was being considered by the German High Command to assume responsibilities as supreme commander of the German Army. He was reported touring Northwest Europe, acting as an anti-invasion chief, inspecting defenses along the coast. Field Marshal Karl von Rundstedt, the current Supreme Commander, was said to have lost Hitler's favor in that he was rumored to be plotting an ouster of the Nazis in preparation for tendering peace terms to the Allies.

The refugees also reported that the Germans were expecting an Allied invasion through Norway and Denmark in the very near future, perhaps within days.

Of course, such reports of expected imminent invasion had periodically come from Germany, and were being used to feel out the Allies and possibly delay action by guessing the correct point of entry.

Labor Party M.P. Aneurin Bevan criticized before Commons the sloth with which the Allied command was prosecuting the war in Italy, comparing it to "an old man approaching a young bride—fascinated, sluggish and apprehensive." The comment brought uproarious laughter to the chamber.

The Right Honorable Bevan also criticized the previous day's speech by Foreign Minister Eden, terming it a "masterpiece of ambiguity" to cover the absence of military successes to back up diplomatic efforts. The British Tory Coalition Government, he continued, had committed blunder after blunder since the victory in North Africa.

The Right Honorable Gentleman was careful not to reference the Liberal Government of the United States in his indictment of war leadership.

As the Russians moved toward the important rail junction at Smela, fourteen miles below Cherkasy, captured the day before, the Nazis threw tanks and soldiers into the area to resist the movement. A new offensive by General Ivan Konov and his Second Ukrainian Army was moving toward Kirovograd and Krivoi Rog.

General MacArthur reported one of the largest air assaults of the war on New Britain as more than a hundred Liberator and Mitchell bombers dropped on Sunday 248 tons of bombs on Gasmata, target of several bombing raids during recent weeks as well as a sea operation on November 29. Only nineteen Japanese planes were observed to contest the operation.

It was reported that more than 3,000 tons of bombs had been dropped on New Britain and the Northern Solomons since October 12. The record drop for one mission thus far was 350 tons on Rabaul on October 12. New Britain was a key to opening operations against the key Japanese supply base at Truk, 800 miles north, and would also open the sea lanes to the Philippines, with Manila lying 2,500 miles away.

Bulgaria was reported to have issued peace feelers to the Allies, seeking surrender on condition that it be allowed to retain territory in Yugoslavia and Greece, territory which it asserted ethically belonged to it. The Allied response to the reported entreaty was continued bombing of Sofia while reasserting the demand for unconditional surrender.

In the Patton case, Republican Senator Langer of North Dakota had submitted several questions of the War Department, among them: "When General Patton berated the soldier with swollen ankles whose leggings were off, did he pull out his revolver? Is it true that eight soldiers near the soldier slipped the safety latches off their rifles because Patton was so abusive toward this soldier? Is it true, as letters from soldiers indicate, that the opinion of Patton in the Army now is such that troops refer to him as 'our blood, his guts'?"

It might have been tempting of the War Department to respond thusly: To whom does the "his" refer in your first question, Senator? As to the others posed, what difference does it make to objective reality when third parties respond subjectively to mere perception of a situation, regardless of the mistake or not in their perception? Is it not the objective reality in the first instance which is solely relevant to the issue of General Patton's worthiness as a soldier? And, if little yellow-bellied bastards need a quick excoriation and kick in the rear end to exhort them further to action to defeat those Nazi sons-of-bitches, what matter if some few of them get their tender little feathers a bit ruffled, you little isolationist Nazi son-of-a-bitch?

Wes Gallagher relates of two "retreads", soldiers who had fought during World War I, within the Army Air Force in the Battle for Italy. Major Alden "Madame" Sherry had been a flier during the Great War and was now handling the decorations and awards, plus assorted odd jobs requiring his unique knowledge, for the Twelfth Air Force. He told of being rescued once during the earlier war after being shot down behind enemy lines at Verdun, having made his way back to friendly territory. His rescuer was the actor Adolph Menjou, commander of a nearby unit. Recently, when Mr. Menjou visited the Italian front, he asked to see Madame Sherry. The Major took along a sergeant gunner shot down behind German lines, having made his way back to friendly ground by feigning being mute as he pushed a wheelchair-bound Italian a hundred miles through Italy. The three then went to dinner.

The other retread of whom he writes was an RAF squadron leader who had joined the British air corps when he was unable at age 56 to obtain desirable service within the U.S. Army. Having served in the previous war with heroic distinction on the front lines in the Army fighting at Ypres when the Germans made first use of gas, he was engaged now in RAF intelligence and censorship. His present duties were to write the daily air communiqués. A bad day was when headquarters censored a single word.

Let us hope that their editing was worthwhile, excision of excessive use of "properly", for instance.

On the editorial page, "Nice Vice" praises the new policy of the city Police Court in cracking down on both prostitutes, sentencing them to six-month sentences, and their pimps.

"Companions" argues that Southern Democrats often joined Republicans in their opposition to Administration-favored policies and thus needed to assess their own loyalty to the Democratic Party before assailing it for allegedly continually distinguishing them as Southern-Americans rather than simply Americans, causing the Southerners to threaten revolt and to bolt to form a third party lest the practice be halted.

One example cited by the piece was the recent amendment to the bill to make it easier for soldiers to vote in Federal elections by absentee ballot. The amendment, which made it more difficult to so vote by providing that the states would retain local control of the procedures for obtaining and submitting absentee ballots, was drafted by Senators Eastland of Mississippi, McClelland of Arkansas, and McKellar of Tennessee. The so-called States' Rights version of the bill had just been approved in the Senate by a voting coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans.

First define whether they were Democrats or Republicans, suggests the piece to the disgruntled Southerners, before determining on a course of secession and formation of a third party—such as George Wallace did in 1968.

"Conflict" finds futile the attempts by RJR Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem to fight the efforts to hold an NLRB-sponsored union election among tobacco workers, that organized labor was going inevitably to infiltrate the South and it was only fitting that cooperation become the watchword to afford better living conditions for all. The piece also cautions, however, that in the case in point, it appeared that the company union already in place was satisfactory to most workers and the election therefore could be seen as an attempt to infiltrate from the outside by a national union. If the company union was truly acceptable to the majority, then the efforts to organize anew, says the piece, did not aid the cause of unions generally.

Of course, if it had been truly acceptable to the majority, then what harm might come from a democratic union election, overseen by the NLRB? The only harm which might come from such a setup would be to the tender minds of the children of the company being suddenly assailed by Yankee Comm-mm-munists brainwashing them to think independently of their kind masters, to vote for better working and living conditions than the benevolent benefactors at RJR were tenderly and paternalistically willing of their own accord generously to provide in their customary eleemosynary manner.

Why, just look around Winston-Salem sometime to this day, friend, and you will understand the vast scope of the illimitable generosity pervading the community made by the Reynolds Tobacco Company. The culture… Well, mere words cannot convey further the feelings we feel today. One word: Resistless.

"Resources" advocates planning in the present for future post-war use of the several military facilities which had been constructed in North Carolina for purposes of training soldiers for the war effort. Suggested use of the facilities after the war was to convert them to medical care facilities as part of a Government-sponsored program for the people as outlined in Chapel Hill recently by Vice-President Wallace.

Instead, of course, these facilities were for the most part either torn down or, as in the case of Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, expanded for preservation of the peace, a peace which needed ever more expansive preservation with the onset of the Cold War.

And that Government-sponsored health care program…

On both counts, see the editorial titled "Companions".

Well, we did once, in fall 1972, take a statistics course in Chapel Hill in one of the former Quonset huts utilized by the airmen while in training at the University during the War. The stories which the walls of that recycled hut told us during that semester are sometimes probably invested herein.

Raymond Clapper assesses the chances of the various candidates for the 1944 Republican presidential nomination, finds that one of the two consistent leaders in the Gallup polls, Thomas Dewey and Wendell Willkie, would likely obtain the nomination. Despite Alf Landon's recent assertion that General MacArthur was more popular in Kansas than "Goat-Gland" Brinkley, purveyor of the miraculous panacea, had ever been, the General's nomination would prove impracticable for the necessity of his continued military command in the Southwest Pacific, an area assuredly not to see the end of the war by the summer of 1944. Similarly, young Harold Stassen, former Minnesota Governor, who would later become a perennial candidate for the presidency, was a lieutenant commander with Admiral Halsey and would be unavailable. Governor Bricker of Ohio had yet to catch fire with Republican leadership.

As between Dewey and Willkie, Dewey would be favored by the party insiders. It would be left to Willkie therefore to prove himself popular still with the people, the first opportunity for which would come in the Wisconsin primary the following April.

Mr. Clapper adds the caveat that events might change the picture by the following summer, as American troops were likely then to be dying in unprecedented numbers.

It would be so, albeit not affecting significantly the prospects of Mr. Dewey to obtain the Republican nomination, as Mr. Willkie’s health and political capital began to wane.

Drew Pearson discusses the Nazi-leaning and Nazi-infiltrated and Nazi emulating methods of the Argentine Government and the consequent ongoing debate between the State Department and Treasury as to what to do about it, whether to freeze Argentina's considerable gold assets in the U.S. to halt its funding of Nazi spy activities ongoing in the U.S. as well as Nazi activities in Argentina.

Example provided by Mr. Pearson of the Nazi emulation by the country's police, a virtual Gestapo, was the practice of picking up suspects alleged to be guilty of no greater offense than uttering within the cafes anti-Nazi remarks, bringing them to the police station where they then were directed to sit in a chair and not to move from the chair for six full days, awaiting the arrival of the police chief who would routinely never show, whereupon, the usual suspect would be released.

Samuel Grafton distinguishes between two types of propaganda, that which entices with good tidings to be had upon unconditional surrender, the "cat's milk" approach, and that which frightens, the horror approach.

It might be characterized, in other words, as the distinction to be drawn between the Focker approach and that of Mr. Kurtz upriver.

The Tehran Declaration, vowing to take the war to Germany from the air, from the ground in the West, the South, and the East, fell into the latter category.

The critics of the Declaration were simply playing solitaire 'til dawn, utilizing a deck missing the Jack and the Ace, not to mention one of the Jokers.

He offers that the delay for five days in release of the Declaration was merely a collateral issue which would be of no interest historically. History would record that the three leaders came together at this juncture in time and planned the final destruction of Nazi Germany. The Declaration transferred the weight of the debate on the future of Germany to the shoulders of the Germans themselves, to plot their own peace by unconditional surrender or watch their country completely destroyed from the air and from the land.

"The struggle has been nakedly moved into a bare arena, as unadorned as the surface of the moon."

In sum, he says, Tehran represented action and leadership, not salesmanship of refrigerators.

And a little news piece on the page tells of the argument ongoing between the Screen Actors Guild and Warner Brothers, producers of the film version of "Hollywood Canteen", regarding whether the many prominent actors and actresses sought to be included in the film would be paid their full normal per film wage, up to $150,000 in some cases, or whether they would receive a thirtieth of the wage based on cameo appearances, taking only a day of their precious time to shoot, as opposed to the usual thirty to turn out a Hollywood masterpiece of lasting import and substance, chocked full of ars for the sake of ars and nothing else, mister, no fluff, no guff. Take it straight from Shapeley. Shapeley's the name, Shapeley's the game.

Well, in time of world war, when the average coal miner, even after unpopularly waging a periodic strike for a prolonged period, got a whopping $57 per week for shoveling coal for a living, why, who could complain of actors and actresses receiving, for the sake of providing to the little people the everlasting pleasure of entertainment of world-shattering consequence and not inconsequential or ever cloying escape from their coal mining woes, $150,000 for a day of work, or even the tenth pittance proposed by Warner Brothers of $5,000 per diem? All's fair in love and war.

Now, little girl, here is another step on the road to understanding the stairs:

Ben Jonson, Volpone II, i, "What monstrous...circumstances Is here, to get some three or four gazettes, Some three-pence in the whole!"

Carew, Cornwall 36a, "Commonly thirtie Acres make a farthing land, nine farthings a Cornish Acre, and four Cornish Acres, a Knight's fee."

Thus, three-pence, prepense, and a farthing.

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